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Musings About Family, Travel And Gardening With Allen Martinson.


Old Wives’ Tale Prevails Again

MIMI AND I LOOKED at the calendar and saw that Good Friday is upon us. We had decided earlier this spring we were going to follow the old wives’ tale to not plant our tender plants until after Easter. It doesn’t make sense to me that the potential pre-Easter cold snap happens every year no matter when Easter falls on the calendar. What I do know is it is the safe thing to do. I have had to replant my vegetable garden and some tender flowers too many times to want to risk it just for a few weeks of growth. I don’t like the bronzing effect that a 30-something degree night will have on young plants. I also think it stunts some of the plant’s growth.

We realized the time to plant is almost upon us. This past weekend we got the soil ready in our raised garden beds. I got the weeds out, topped them off with mushroom compost and other organic matter and mulched them with pine bark. The mulch keeps us from having to water as frequently. I like my vegetable soil to dry out really well between watering. This seems to keep the funguses and blights to a minimum. I believe running them on the dry side enhances the flavors of the produce.

I think about where the good tasting vegetables come from our local farmers have produced. They usually come from dry, arid and well-drained soils like Texas and Mexico so I try to mimic that as best I can. Raised beds make that easier to obtain, even during a rainy spring the beds allow the wetness to drain away faster than the ground can.

We only plant what we like to eat and give away to friends. We have lettuces, asparagus, non-tender herbs like parsley, thyme, cilantro, rosemary, oregano, and chives planted now. We will wait on the basils because they really don’t like chilly nights. After Easter we will plant tomatoes, okra, peppers, carrots, beans and crookneck squash. My blueberry bushes are loaded with blooms so it looks like we will have enough blueberries this year to turn our teeth blue. My figs are showing signs of life. We can’t get enough figs. We cleaned up the pea gravel walkways between the beds so we won’t have any grasses or weed seeds jumping in our boxes full of nutritious soil.

When we were finished getting the garden right we moved on to our big beds. We dug up some junipers that had gotten too big for their britches and transplanted them to a side of our yard where we are shooting for more privacy. It’s a little risky moving them this late being as large as they are. We figured we had nothing to lose and possibly a wall of 12 year old junipers to gain if it works. We watered them with root stimulator and we will follow up with a second watering with the hormone that makes root grow three times faster. We will have to baby them through this first summer but it will be worth it. I have had a river of gold running through a portion of my yard made up of sunshine ligustrum for 12 years. They have been gorgeous but have taken over the view so we decided to cut them way back to let them rejuvenate.

I didn’t realize how many knockout roses they were hiding and now we have a new view of the beds we layered behind that bed. The bed that was being blocked is full of peach drift roses and white Camelias and some other plants that are ready to be a part of the show. I pruned all of my roses around the yard back in February so they are just on the brink of putting on a big show.

I CUT THE DEAD wood off of my Cuban gold duranta which made it through its second winter. They are a very tender perennial so we cover them when we get prolonged temperatures below 32 or ice. Our snowball viburnum is covered in blooms and buds but they have gotten taller than I want them and they are beginning to look a little rangy so I plan to prune them pretty hard when they are finished blooming. They are beginning to hide my oakleaf hydrangeas which are leafing now. My parsley hawthorns are in full bloom now. I think they are blooming more heavily this year than I’ve ever seen them bloom. They are right next to my buckeye trees that are budding up now. We try to keep something blooming in our “native” plant bed most of the time. Grancy graybeard will be next. That is always a spectacular show.

Our limelight hydrangea tree forms are leafing out nicely. I can’t even imagine how they will hold themselves up this year when they start blooming since they could barely stand it last year. Now that we pruned them after last year’s bloom was finished we should get twice as many blooms this year. We have them staked and ready for their new weight. I went ahead and worked in quite a bit of cotton seed meal to their root area and did the same for my Japanese yews which have taken quite a jump over the last year. Our dream of a courtyard walled in by 12 foot yews is coming sooner than we thought. They are really fast growers so we wanted to support them with some slow release fertilizer so it will be available as they need it.

Mimi planted some of the pots around the house. I really love the salmon colored geraniums she spotted throughout the yard, very eye catching. We weeded the circles around our trees and I dropped some cotton seed meal so now we can go ahead and mulch them with pine bark mulch.

That work weekend has us feeling back on top and ready for next week when we can plant away. That work weekend also had us feeling muscles we had forgotten about. It seems like we have to go through this every year. Then it starts to feel better as our backs get used to the new movements. It gets to be so much fun and exciting that the pain seems to go away or at least be forgotten about.

I hope your early spring goes as painlessly as it can and I hope you are ready for spring since it is officially here after Sunday, according to the old wives’ tale.

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